Undercover Crew Visited Local ACORN Office

ACORN under fire after undercover videos were broadcast

The undercover crew at the center of an embarrassing scandal for the grass-roots organization ACORN also paid a visit to the ACORN office in National City.

Grass-roots organizing has received a black eye on the national stage after undercover videos involving ACORN, a controversial group with a local office, were released that were shot during a series of visits from a hidden-camera crew.

Wednesday night, Fox News showcased a copy of a video in which one of the National City ACORN workers is advising the filmmaker on how to smuggle underage girls from Mexico, and inquiring about the price of the services from the woman acting as the prostitute.

David Lagstein with California ACORN confirmed the video is real. He said the employee in that video is Juan Carlos Vera.

"Our staff member in question says that doesn’t capture what happened," Lagstein said. "They succeeded in getting our staff members to say things they shouldn't have said. We need to see the full video to see what happened.”

Earlier in the day, local ACORN officials, at an office in National City, said they were upset over the fallout and admitted that the undercover filmmakers paid a visit to them. They say no "paperwork" was filed. At that point, no "gotcha" video had surfaced.

"I think none of our offices are 100 percent perfect. Our office here in San Diego is no different. I think what is important is that every day we are saving people from foreclosure,” Lagstein said prior to San Diego video's release. “Fighting for access to health care. We're helping families to become new citizens that are eligible for that."

In a statement released Wednesday afternoon, Lagstein wrote, “San Diego ACORN confirms that the unscrupulous undercover team visited the San Diego office some time last month. The incident will be investigated as part of the work of the Independent Advisory Council announced today. ACORN confirms that no paperwork of any kind was filed by the San Diego office. We are also demanding that Fox news release the full content of the tapes [and all of the undercover tapes].”

The organization is now launching an independent investigation and overhaul.

While ACORN cleans its house amid the hidden-camera scandal, the group is facing a cutoff in federal housing grants and calls for a Justice Department investigation.

An activist filmmaker and a friend, posing as a pimp and a hooker, have exposed deceitful practices involving ACORN offices in Brooklyn, Baltimore, Washington and San Bernardino.

"Honesty is not going to get you the house,” is heard from one of the participants in the undercover video.

That "house" was to be used for prostitution -- a premise ACORN staffers offered help in concealing. The organization has fired or suspended several employees and brought in outside auditors.

ACORN has been active and taken to the streets in San Diego County since 2001 occasionally drawing criticism for its assistance in getting mortgage loans for illegal immigrants.

In last year's local voter registration campaign, 17 percent of the applications were red-flagged as "invalid' or 'deficient."

Meantime, we got this reaction to the ACORN scandal from Michael Rosen, secretary of the San Diego County Republican Party: "What's coming into focus now is that ACORN itself may be at the epicenter of the economic and political crises facing this country," said Rosen.

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